Looking at globalization of our e-commerce. I was wondering if instead of having to translate "Add to Cart" in every language if simply a plus button will suffice.

plus button

I'm pretty new to globalization and I am wondering if the plus button is universal?

  • 2
    Not necessarily. Some e-commerce apps/webapps will use this to increment the quantity before adding to the cart...so it's not enough on its own to represent the notion of adding the item to a cart. However, the question doesn't provide any context within which this button will be used, so maybe it works in your particular scenario... Nov 3 '14 at 10:58
  • 1
    How about a shopping cart icon?
    – Lovis
    Nov 3 '14 at 21:06

While the plus icon may be widely understood as "add", I would say it's a big risk to rely solely on it without any context. If localization is not feasible, my inclination would be to test an icon that shows a plus or arrow with a cart next to it, and also make this a very strong CTA using color/size/layout.


For what it’s worth, the plus sign is probably more universally understood than the concept of shopping cart / basket / bag. It does not necessarily mean ‘Add X to Y’, however, but ‘Increase Amount of X’ – by 1 if not indicated otherwise – which may include automatic addition of another X to Y, especially if there is already at least 1 X in Y. Where amounts can be increased, they usually can also be decreased, so there would be a minus sign, too. That’s all true for English as well, of course.

Symbols for various shopping cart actions

Drag-drop is quite universal, by the way, but hardly supported by e-commerce sites as far as I know. It quite accurately resembles the physical action of putting some item into a container. This action can also be visualized with a down arrow and a generic container. Many online shopping sites just use a symbolic image of their metaphor for an container (without an arrow or plus sign) instead, i.e. most often a shopping cart, which can look quite different around the world. Note that in the physical world, most people will use a cart (or basket) for grocery shopping, but not for clothing for instance.

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